Apple Time Capsule not 'server grade'

Apple Time Capsule not 'server grade'

The Time Capsule comes with a Hitachi Deskstar drive, contrary to Apple marketing claims.

Apple's much-hyped marriage of a network-attached hard drive and a wireless access point, the Time Capsule, has been thoroughly dismantled by eager early adopters and it's revealed something interesting.

One of the main selling points of the device, and one that Apple made a big deal of in the original marketing materials, was the use of “server grade” hardware – specifically, the hard drive. It was thought that the use of a server-grade drive would ensure data security on the single-drive device.

Indeed, the Apple website still touts the device as having a “massive 500GB or 1TB server-grade hard drive.

Now the early models have been dismantled however, it has become clear that Apple has been telling porkies. The drive used in the retail released versions of the Time Capsule is a Hitachi Deskstar – very much a consumer grade drive.

So what does this mean for Apple customers? Not a lot, to be honest. Although they'd be hard-pushed to claim that Desktars are enterprise-grade – Hitachi have a seperate range of Ultrastar drives for server use – the fact is that the drive does what it says on the tin. If Apple hadn't made quite such a fuss over the reliability of the hardware it would probably have gone unnoticed altogether.

Still, it does go to show that when you buy a sealed box you don't always know what you're getting: and that applies to any manufacturer.

Do you think Apple is deliberately misleading customers, or is it an honest miscommunication between the techies and the marketing department? Let us know in the forums.


Discuss in the forums Reply
BioSniper 3rd March 2008, 07:55 Quote
I believe they are classifying them as "server grade" because it's the same drives they use in their X-Serve line rather than the drive manufacturers claims on what they are suitable for.
Still would make me think twice before parting with my cash for one though.
Dizman 3rd March 2008, 08:08 Quote
The insane price tag was what kept me from parting with my cash.
Cthippo 3rd March 2008, 08:10 Quote
Is there a significant MTBFR delta between the lines?*

Besides, it's not like drive failure happens that often, and if you want real data security, you'd buy a real NAS box with RAID and some sort of backup device.

*My e-penis grew a micron just saying that :D
Jipa 3rd March 2008, 08:28 Quote
Oh what a surprise - Apple made a device that costs extra, but offers nothing special over any other NAS-drive? "Server-grade" my ass, why would someone buy a designed piece of iPlastic for "server-grade" use anyway? Atleast it has a fan...
hawky84 3rd March 2008, 09:00 Quote
Originally Posted by Cthippo
Besides, it's not like drive failure happens that often

hmm I think you will find it happens quite often I have had drives from different manufactures go faulty, one Western Digital Caviar went only after 3 months!!! and boy can that be a pain if you dont back up properly.
metarinka 3rd March 2008, 09:20 Quote
I think it's the equivelant of say SUV's as "all terrain" when no one who drives a lexus ever takes one over more than a street curb. I was curious to what type of "server grade" hard drive they had in there, in all honesty for a single/very low user depth like a home server environment you would actually see a decrease in performance using a server drive over a consumer drive as the firmwareoptimising and command queing aren't optimised for such a task. In my mind reliability is indepent of server/consumer grade drives each model/manufacturer has hi's and lows in terms of reliability and it's hard to find adequate real world numbers. However I've rain raid 0 for 2 years and single disk for many more and I've only twice loose data
Tomm 3rd March 2008, 10:52 Quote
Apparently the 500Gb version DOES have an enterprise-grade disk in it. Maybe they're making up for unexpected demand by bunging any old drive in there?

I think it's pretty shady but 'server grade' is perhaps an ambiguous term.
Arkanrais 3rd March 2008, 12:50 Quote
perhaps they should name these machines iSmellbullsh*t
edit: or iFail
Bluephoenix 3rd March 2008, 14:53 Quote
Originally Posted by Arkanrais
perhaps they should name these machines iSmellbullsh*t
edit: or iFail

and yes, there is a difference of 100,000+ hours MTBF between the ultrastars and the deskstars, and is the primary reason I use enterprise grade 1TB Seagate drives in my RAID6 array, they make a bit more noise, but I'll take that for the extra 500,000 MBTF hour boost. ;)
Fly 3rd March 2008, 15:14 Quote
To be honest, most macfans would buy poo spread on toast if it was called iTaste and had an Apple logo. I doubt this discovery will affect their sales much, unless someone opens their eyes in the Apple store.
naokaji 3rd March 2008, 15:31 Quote
Apple time Capsule for 299$ or WD MyBook for 129$? what a difficult question (both 500 GB models and if you connect the mybook to a wlan switch / router then it got wlan too..)
Mr T 3rd March 2008, 21:36 Quote
If MS did this they would get ripped to death. Yet Apple just seam to get away with this kinda stuff.
David_Fitzy 3rd March 2008, 23:44 Quote
It doesn't matter what grade hdd it is if that one hdd fails you lose all your backups. No server anywhere relies on a single hdd, to me a major part of 'server grade' is redundancy.
koola 4th March 2008, 00:03 Quote
Originally Posted by Tomm
I think it's pretty shady but 'server grade' is perhaps an ambiguous term.
Yeah, there is a clear difference between consumer and enterprise grade components. Apple's use of the undefined term "server grade" would reasonably lead one to expect to find the circa 1.2 million hour MTBF Ultrastar drive in the TC. Note that Apple does seem to use the 1.2 million hour MTBF Barracuda ES drive in the 500 GB model.
Originally Posted by naokaji
Apple time Capsule for 299$ or WD MyBook for 129$? what a difficult question (both 500 GB models and if you connect the mybook to a wlan switch / router then it got wlan too..)
You forget that TC is a router with gigabit LAN and 802.11N wireless as well as the USB port able to network a printer or connect a USB HDD. This is a great unit which replaces many components. Can't wait to recieve mine this week :D

Edit: Plus I got an educational discount on top, great stuff.

Edit+1: Just got TC this morning and I'm delighted with it. Super easy to setup, lightning fast over gigabit & .11n and I've been streaming 720p movies to my AppleTV with ease (G stuttered and lagged a bit). It's very quiet too other than hearing the HDD spin up when TM wants to backup.
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